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Book List: Nonfiction Books That Will Make You Think

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Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links, which means if you purchase something through one of these Very Special Links, I get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Just a head's up!

I'm a big fan of fiction. I absolutely love it. There are so many different places it could go. Fantasy, historical, science fiction... It's not real, but it can be based on actual events or people. Nonfiction on the other hand, is much more narrow; it can't go in as many directions. But that doesn't make it any less compelling. Some of the best stories that can ever be told are real life stories, and it takes a special kind of author to do the research and write a whole book about an actual event or person and make it just as readable as a fiction book. I may not read nonfiction as much as I read fiction, but a large number of nonfiction books have completely blown my mind and have opened me up to a variety of situations and events that I otherwise would have never known about if they have not been written into very entertaining and illuminating books. Here are a few of my favorite nonfiction books! Enjoy and get ready to learn (in a very fun way)!*

*Even though I am so incredibly squeamish, I read a lot of books involving medical procedures, medical discoveries, murder, etc. I guess as long as I don't see blood, then I won't faint. Well, I still kind of get light-headed reading about surgery, but it's still super interesting. Even if I have to lie down while reading about it....

Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi with Curt Gentry

W.W. Norton & Company
Everyone's heard of Charles Manson, right? That really crazy old guy who dances around prison and gives really strange interviews? Well, that old guy and his cult "family" orchestrated and committed multiple gruesome murders in 1960's Los Angeles, including the killing of Roman Polanski's pregnant wife, actress Sharon Tate. The murders of Tate, her friends, a wealthy couple, and several other victims who were just in the wrong place at the wrong time, shocked and fascinated the nation as it was later revealed that Manson and his family viewed him as a prophet and thought by committing the murders, they were bringing about an end of the world race war. Oh, and did I mention that Manson got all of this from a Beatles' song, "Helter Skelter?" Vincent Bugliosi was the lead prosecutor on one of the biggest murder trials in American history and his insight into Manson's world (and mind) and the zealous people who followed him is completely horrifying and beyond interesting, in a terrifying and morbid way. You won't be able to put it down, or look at those crazy videos of Charles Manson the same way ever again.

Very Special Link: Buy Helter Skelter on Amazon

Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer (or anything else by Jon Krakauer)

Has this summer been unseasonably hot for you? Read Into Thin Air, about a hiking expedition to the summit of Mt. Everest that goes very, very wrong, and you'll instantly be chilled to the bone. And possibly be put off the idea of hiking dangerous mountains forever. Jon Krakauer, master writer of such great other nonfiction books (such as Into the Wild, Under the Banner of Heaven, and most recently Missoula), was actually on the expedition to climb the famous mountain and was going to report on it in a sports/adventures magazine, when tragedy on the mountain struck. Kraukauer's excellent writing skills and his journalistic instinct to figure out what really happened that fateful day makes this a compelling read. You learn to love (and sometimes dislike) these real life characters, thanks to his descriptive details and followup interviews with everyone involved in the expedition, and that makes the tragedy on the mountain even more poignant. 

Very Special Link: Buy Into Thin Air on Amazon

The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York by Deborah Blum

Penguin Press
Poison and murder just goes hand in hand, don't they? For thousands and thousands of years, it was practically the weapon of choice when you wanted to off a person without all that bloody mess that a knife or a sword might make. Plus it was basically fool proof, because how could you really prove anyone had actually been poisoned? But in the early 20's, the medicine and chemistry were united and a team of two, a chief medical examiner and a toxicologist, paved the way for modern crime scene investigations and discovered how to identify poison in a human body- and therefore condemn the perpetrators who would before that be able to walk free. Each chapter is dedicated to a different poison and the crime (or just the story of mysterious and sad deaths) that accompanied it. The Poisoner's Handbook highlights a monumental and important time in modern science and is thrilling to read about. Plus it has murder and poison in it, so how can you go wrong??

Very Special Link: Buy The Poisoner's Handbook on Amazon

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

W.W. Norton & Company
Have you ever wondered what happens to dead bodies after they... well, die? Mary Roach, one of my very favorite nonfiction/science authors answers just that question in the book Stiff. With a great mix of humor and informative commentary, she takes us into the world of what happens after we die- at least, for our bodies anyway, and what medical advances and uses humankind has for corpses. Parts gross and hilarious, lighthearted and serious, it's a great read for people who are interested in the science of the morbid and the human body. Also, check out Mary Roach's other science related books, as they are incredibly entertaining and educating! (She has books on the subjects of space, sex, and so many more, all with her trademark commentary and thoughts. Love her!)

Very Special Link: Buy Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers on Amazon

Girls Like Us: Fighting For a World Where Girls Are Not For Sale, An Activist Finds Her Calling and Heals Herself by Rachel Lloyd

Rachel Lloyd is an activist in the truest sense of the word. She started an organization (GEMS) to help, educate, and create a safe environment for girls who have been in the sex trade industry and want to escape that life. But not only has she done this, but she has also escaped that life herself. This engrossing and harrowing book is not only an informative read, but it also acts as a memoir for Lloyd, as she comes to terms with her former life, tells her story, and about why she identifies so much with the girls she tries to help. Lloyd also explains the very complicated and manipulative relationship that pimps offer their girls, the psychology behind it, and just how hard it is to escape from that hold. The book is eye-opening and will make you angry at the injustices of the world that many had no idea about, but also leave you feeling hopeful that there are people like Lloyd who are out there dedicating their lives to helping others. Go Rachel go!

Very Special Link: Buy Girls Like Us on Amazon

Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh
Weidenfeld & Nicolson
A neurosurgeon tells his story experiences about operating on the human brain, and the lives he's saved and lost and how it has all impacted him. It's a big dose of reality, since most of us forget that doctors or surgeons are people too, and make mistakes. And unlike our mistakes in our everyday lives, when medical mistakes happen, they have very serious or deadly consequences. Dr. Henry Marsh writes about his life in a humble and honest way as he tries to explain his triumphs and his failures as he deals with the pride of saving a life, and the guilt that can come with one fatal error. It's engrossing and sobering memoir about a surgeon's work and life that you won't be able to put down.

Very Special Link: Buy Do No Harm on Amazon

Brain On Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan

Free Press
Have you ever had a mysterious ache or pain and found it so annoying but eventually it went away? Susannah Cahalan wasn't so lucky. As a young twenty-four year old, she was the picture of health until she wasn't. Violent episodes, mood swings, memory loss, sensitivity to light and temperature, paranoia. Everything (and everyone) pointed to mental illness, but her family wasn't convinced. After Susannah is hospitalized, doctors came and went and couldn't diagnosis her, until one doctor believed he knew exactly what was wrong with her; and he believed it was medical. Cahalan's book is a memoir, her view of her life before her illness and what she's pieced together from when she was in the throes affliction, and a medical investigating piece of what happened during and after, from what she's learned from her family and doctor about what transpired when she was not...herself. It's such a well written book and although it's incredibly gripping, it's very scary because it's very real, like it could happen to anyone. Even you.

Very Special Link: Buy Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness on Amazon

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up For Education and Was Shot By the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb

Little, Brown and Company
If you don't know who Malala Yousafzai, please read this book. She's a champion for education and girls' rights. She literally stood up to the Taliban for her right to education and despite what they did to her, she survived. After you read this INCREDIBLE book, please go watch her documentary He Named Me Malala. She is a remarkable young woman and I admire her so much for believing in something so universal and important. She's also the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner to date. If that doesn't inspire you (as if standing up to the Taliban and other organizations who don't think it's right for girls to have an education doesn't impress you. Are you even human?), then I don't know what else will!

Very Special Link: Buy I Am Malala on Amazon

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

One girl's journey living with her dysfunctional and sometimes destructive family reads just like fiction, but every single thing in it is true. It's a flawed yet perfect example of finding yourself and coming to terms with your past, the people who shaped you, and finally putting yourself first and your future first- for better or worse.

Very Special Link: Buy The Glass Castle on Amazon

Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright

Alfred A. Knopf
Religious freedom is very important, I'm sure we can all agree on that, but another thing we also agree on is that SCIENTOLOGY IS CRAZY, RIGHT??? If you needed it confirmed, this book will do it for you.

Very Special Link: Buy Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief on Amazon

What did you think of my list of nonfiction books? Have you read any of them? Did any of my suggestions peak your interest? Let me know!

Stay Weird,

What No One Will Tell You About Having Anxiety

I think it goes without saying that everyone agrees that having anxiety is the worst. It gets in the way of friendships, relationships, work, basically it affects everything. And it's hard to deal with. It seems like it's with you constantly and you're fighting it and dealing with it at every moment that you're awake.

I don't usually mention my anxiety or any of the other mental illnesses that I suffer from because I find the subject embarrassing to admit. I know I shouldn't- mental illness is just as valid as a physical illness and shouldn't be something to be ashamed of. Deep down I know this, but in a way, I never mention it to my friends, some family members, or even romantic partners because it feels like if I do say I'm struggling with my anxiety, or am having a panic attack, it feels like I'm admitting defeat and giving into my anxiety. Which is probably a weird mental rule I made for myself due to my OCD (that's another subject for another time), but because of that impulse and habit to stay quiet about my anxiety, I have decided to be more outspoken and honest about my struggles. Especially since I've been following Nicole over at Thrifty Vintage Fashion, who is an advocate for raising mental health awareness and has been so open about her own experiences (please check out her blog! She and the blog are amazing!)

I have decided (courageously, if I do say so myself) to start writing about my mental illnesses, but hopefully in a funny and uplifting sort of way. Mental illness already causes so much darkness and stress into the sufferer's life, that I want to provide a humorous yet informative and relatable way to express what I go through, and what many other people go through as well.

So please, enjoy this list of:

 What No One Will Tell You About Having Anxiety

It Affects Everything In Your Life
Going to run some errands? Anxiety. Going out with your friends? Anxiety! Going out on a date? ANXIETY! Going on a trip to a far off place that requires a long stay on an airplane for lord knows how many hours and then you're in a completely different place faraway from the safety of your house? ANXIETY ANXIETY ANXIETY!!!!!

If you have generalized anxiety (and panic disorder like I do. I mean, what don't I have?), pretty much everything can stress you out. What some people think is the most simple thing (running errands, driving, shopping) requires me to take time to mentally prepare for an outing, even if it's something fun, like going to a movie or just a nice night out with my really good friends. But in order for you to actually conquer or even just face your anxiety, unfortunately you have to do the things that scare you. Which can be pretty much everything for people with generalized anxiety, but for people with situational anxiety, it can be something very specific, like a crowded place, a small enclosed place, or other more individual things. But honestly, the best feeling is when you're super anxious about doing something, but you go anyway and you have a great time. Most people wouldn't think twice about going out, but for people with anxiety, it's a hard journey but the end result of you conquering that awful anxiety makes the experience worth it and even more special. I have so many great memories of concerts, trips, and outings I've gone on because of how anxious I was about going to them but I went anyway. Each time I don't stay home and let my anxiety win is a victory. And remember: small victories are still victories!

You Probably Will Plan for Every Perceivable Outcome- and Pack Accordingly
Your purse or carry-on bag become your lifelines. When I have to go out or travel, I take my BIG purse and pack accordingly: Emergency anti-anxiety meds? Check. Food in case my blood sugar drops and I get light-headed? (I get hangry, okay?) Check. Wallet? Check. Phone, fully charged with everyone's current contacts and with music and multiple podcasts downloaded onto it? Double check. It may not seem like much, but just knowing you have some helpful items with you, just in case you need them, is a huge relief. 9 times out 10, you probably won't need them, but in those rare instances that you do freak out, you have those supplies to help or calm you down. And wherever I go, I always look for the bathroom- it's a good place to go if you need privacy and do some deep breathing to calm down. If I'm traveling, I usually bring a checklist (and an itinerary of where we're going, hotels, phone numbers, etc) of everything I've packed, including medications (don't leave home without 'em!), to reassure myself either in the car or the plane that I did in fact pack everything. Going out and traveling is supposed to be fun, so being prepared can help put your mind and anxiety at ease!

Your Therapist Will Become Your Frenemy
There is no one else in the world who will understand exactly what you're going through. Therapists and other mental health professionals are the experts in anxiety/panic. It's so important to find a therapist that understands you and that you trust, because working through anxiety is a tough job for both parties and you have to be dedicated to getting a hold of your anxiety. Your therapist will become your biggest ally: you'll confide in them, they'll advise you, they'll reassure you that you're not crazy and that anxiety is incredibly common and that you can definitely get it under control with enough time and effort...But your therapist will also become your enemy: they'll encourage you to push yourself, challenge your fears, and put yourself in anxiety-inducing situations. And you'll hate them (temporarily) for it. But that mean-seeming shove is actually a caring push in the right direction, towards finally getting that anxiety under control. In the long run, you'll be so grateful for all of the effort your therapist- and YOU!- have put towards your mental health.

A Lot of People Won't (or Will Never) Understand What You're Going Through
And that's totally okay. There are a lot of things that other people go through that I don't understand, but while I can't empathize, I can certainly sympathize. Others though, may question your anxiety or find it "annoying" because it's a hindrance to them (I'm not at all quoting an ex-boyfriend of mine. Nope. Not at all. Please notice the "ex" prefix in front of "boyfriend."). "Have you tried exercising? Diet? Holistic herbs? Ritual blood sacrifice?" are probably some questions you may be asked. Or you may have problems with friends or significant others who just can't "deal with it" and it's "too much" for them to understand (as if they're suffering more than YOU!). If so, drop them like a hot potato and stick with your friends and family who are your allies and who you can talk and confide in (a support system, if you will). If someone really loves and cares about you, they'll accept you, anxiety and all.

It's Totally Okay to Be on Medication for Anxiety
Despite what Mr. Tom Cruise and other wackos say, it's completely acceptable to be on medication. A lot of anti-depressants will also help with anxiety, plus there are some psych medications specifically made to help combat anxiety. There is no shame in being on medication if it helps you lead a better life. Mental illness is just like any other illness that requires medication. Some people try an anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medication for a short period of time and go off of it, but some, like me, have to stay on their medication indefinitely. And that's totally okay and normal. But for a lot of people with anxiety or another sort of mental illness, medication and therapy together works wonders. So find what works for you, and don't listen to what others (I was going to use a bad word instead of "others" but I decided to stay classy. Sometimes I hate being classy) say. Be concerned with YOUR mental health and what makes YOU feel better.

You Just Learn to Live with It
For some people, anxiety is something they will always suffer from. The "lucky" (I put that word in quotes because anyone who suffers for any amount of time with anxiety is never lucky. Everyone who has anxiety suffers) ones will only have it for a short period of times, but others aren't so "lucky." I, unfortunately, will probably always be one of those people whose anxiety will stick around for the foreseeable future. Sometimes my anxiety almost seems non-existent and I can lead an almost-normal life (you know, with all the other mental stuff I have going on), and other times, it seems to consume my daily life and it's a struggle to make it through the day without breaking down. But I have hope because each day that I'm suffering from anxiety, I fight it each day. I still go out, I still try to have fun. You can't let anxiety rule you, even though it threatens to take over your life. It can be managed and handled, and you can still lead a productive and fulfilled life, even if it doesn't seem like it some days. You are more than your anxiety. Don't ever forget that ♥

Thanks so much for reading! If you suffer from anxiety, I hope you could relate to some of these and I hope my tips and encouragement helped a little. It's a good reminder to myself, as well. This post was incredibly therapeutic to write. Much love to anyone who has anxiety! Keep up the good fight!

Stay Weird,

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Throwback: Books That Take Me Back to Childhood

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
I know I say that the Harry Potter series defined my childhood, but I'd be lying if I said it was the only book series or books to do so. My entire childhood (which happened in the 90's and early 2000's. I know. I'm old) has been influenced by literature, either classic or current and I am forever grateful. Reading opened up my imagination, kept me occupied and entertained, and transported me to different times and places (and made me envy their exciting lives, adventures, and at times, they're superpowers, if they had any). Not only did they do all that, but they also influenced my life as it is today. The lessons I learned, the jokes I laughed at, and the moments I cried at, or jumped in terror all shaped me to the weird person I am right now (thanks, books! And you're welcome, world).

So in honor of those certain books that had a profound effect on me, and all books, for that matter, I have drawn up a list of my favorite books that just thinking about them transports me to my book-filled childhood. Making this list was incredibly fun and nostalgic for me, I had such a wonderful time writing it and remembering the stories and memories attached to these books. It makes me want to check out all of these books from the library again and just spend an entire summer afternoon reading them while I sip a Hi-C juice box and eat some snack only produced during the mid to late 90's (Dunkaroos, maybe? Or Fruit Gushers? Or those crackers where you spread the cheese on them yourself with that little red stick! Do they still make those? I need them all!).

Anyway, enjoy my list and don't be too surprised that the overall theme is very 90's/2000's (so enjoy it, you 90's kids!) and that a lot of the books included are ghost stories! (Of course they are! It wouldn't be a That Weird Girl Life blog post if I didn't mention something paranormal at least once!)

Baby-Sitters Little Sister by Ann M. Martin

Oh, Baby-Sitters Little Sister's Karen. You were the more accessible part of the Baby-Sitters universe. The characters of the Baby-Sitters Club were much too grown up for me (they were 12 and liked boys! I couldn't relate at such a young age!), but Karen was just right. I followed/lived vicariously through her on her countless adventures (new glasses, fights with friends, bullies, a trip to New York City, divorced parents, etc.). I'm pretty sure I read every single book in the series (I think there were over 100!) and I loved every single minute of its late 80's/early 90's coolness. Leggings and roller blades forever!

Amelia's Notebook series by Marissa Moss

Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
If only my childhood notebooks/journals/diaries could have been HALF as cool as Amelia's Notebook. In this series, you read Amelia's many notebooks, all detailing her life as she moves to a new town with her mom and sister and her other experiences in her life (in one book, she gets to go to space camp. SPACE CAMP! How cool is that??). I was incredibly jealous of Amelia's superb drawing skills, as she decorates her numerous notebook and illustrates her life in fun and creative ways. As a tween in the late 90's/early 2000's, I had an Amelia's Notebook CD-rom game where you could write down your thoughts and use Amelia-style cartoon images (with animations and sounds!) to decorate your "notebook." I thought it was (and still do) think it was the coolest thing ever, and kinda wish I still had it. Do you think a Windows 98 era CD-rom would still run on a Windows 10 laptop?

Sweet Valley Twins by Francine Pascal (but really by a bunch of ghostwriters, tbh)

Like Baby-Sitters Little Sister, this was another series from the late 80's/early 90's that I literally devoured. Jessica and Elizabeth were twins (who doesn't want to have a twin? I sure did after reading these books!) who are completely different (one's sporty, one's girly) but love each other and share adventures, friends, and sometimes crushes (oooooh, drama!). Sweet Valley Twins was a prequel series, in a way, published after the popular series Sweet Valley High, about teenage Jessica and Elizabeth.

But Sweet Valley Twins will always have a special place in my heart, because it was one of the first books series that introduced me to horror. For some reason during the series, Jessica and Elizabeth's escapades take a supernatural turn as they start baby-sitting (there's that 80's/90's baby-sitting theme again!) a single mom's kids in the family's newly moved in (haunted) house where the kids start having nightmares of a "beast" attacking them in their dreams and then in REAL LIFE, so it's up to the super baby-sitting twins to stop it. It was pretty terrifying to read when I was around 9 or 10, but the mini-series of those four books (Too Scared to Sleep, The Beast Is Watching You, The Beast Must Die, and If I Die Before I Wake) was a major component in my turning out to be a major horror fan. So thanks, Sweet Valley Twins, for turning me into that weird, twisty person that I am today!

Bantam Books

Holes by Louis Sachar

THIS was the book that when I first read it, I was in awe that an author could take several different stories, weave them all together, to make one exciting, funny, and meaningful complete book. Even now when I reread it, it completely blows my mind that the stories flow so seamlessly and perfectly together. And yes, the movie is great, too, and that's because the author wrote the screenplay. Phew! At least that was a book-to-movie adaptation movie studios didn't mess up! (Also, RIP normal Shia LaBeouf)

Wayside School series by Louis Sachar

Bloomsbury Children's Books/Avon Camelot/Bloomsbury U.S.A. Children's Books
Most boys in my elementary school class were reading Captain Underpants books (which, let's be honest, I also read. They were hilarious AND inventive!), but my choice for go to funny books were the Wayside School books, also by the brilliant Louis Sachar. I both simultaneously did and did not want to attend the crazy, sideways Wayside School, which was full of strange and silly students and teachers, and their funny/scary/odd stories. These (in my super important and yet incredibly humble opinion) are classic comedic kids books that every kid (and adult) should read in their lifetimes. But that's just my very meaningful and not at all pushy opinion.

The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright

Scholastic Paperbacks
You know how I mentioned that the Sweet Valley Twins creepy mini-series of books helped get me interested in horror? Well, The Dollhouse Murders also played a very big part in transforming me into the ghost-obsessed weirdo you see before you. I remember reading this book and it freaking me out so much, and yet making me interested in ghosts and other creepy things. Soon after reading this book I was looking in the "ghosts and supernatural" section of the library and the rest is history. I recently found a copy of this book at my local Goodwill (and bought it, of course), and my purchase of it actually influenced this post. Full circle! (Or creepy coincidence???)

The Ghost in the Third Row/The Ghost Wore Gray/The Ghost In the Big Brass Bed by Bruce Coville

Uh oh, another horror series that influenced young Emily? Yep! Bruce Coville's book series of two best friends who always seem to stumble upon a restless spirit who needs their help are so fun and so good! The power of friendship, solving mysteries, and creepy ghosts have never been so entertaining!

Scary Stories to Tell In the Dark by Alvin Schwartz

Scholastic, Inc
If this wasn't your first introduction to the world of horror and ghost stories, then you had a sad, sad childhood (not really, but just go with it for the sake of this book list). Even as an adult, the illustrations will both scare you and make you feel vaguely nauseated. Plus the stories still actually hold up in their overall creepiness. Have fun sleeping after reading them! (Because you sure couldn't after you read them as a kid!)

Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine

R.L. Stine, the KING of 90's children's literature, proves that a horror series for kids can not only be scary but FUNNY. Which was brilliant because as he lulls you in with his humorous writing, he then scares the sh*t out of you as a young girl who only wears cloth shorts (not jean shorts. CLOTH shorts) and has a bowl haircut. Yes, I just described me as a child. And yes, now you can see how I turned out the way that I did. Plus, all the parents of the kids in my class were all worried that Goosebumps books were too scary for us kids which only made us want to read them more. That's how you get kids to read, people. Reverse psychology at its finest!

Pretty Much Anything Sharon Creech Has Ever Written!

Harpertrophy/MacMillan Children's Books
Life-changing. Any book authored by Sharon Creech is simply life-changing. But mostly Walk Two Moons and The Wanderer. But everything else she writes is good too. No, not just good. LIFE-CHANGING.

Special shoutout to Roald Dahl, Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume for being the OG children's books authors and for influencing us young and old readers for years and years! If you read any of these authors' books as a kid, then you had an incredibly fun and imaginative childhood! ♥ 

Puffin Books/Oxford University Press
Have you read any of these books as a kid? What were your favorites back then? Let me know in the comments!

Stay Weird,

Book Recommendation: It Ended Badly by Jennifer Wright

Henry Holt and Co.

Book: It Ended Badly: Thirteen of the Worst Breakups in History
Author: Jennifer Wright
Genre: Nonfiction

Why You Should Read It (In My Humble Opinion): Have you ever looked back at a breakup and thought that you may have overreacted or did something stupid or rash to punish your ex? Like, maybe you wrote a scathing text to your ex, cussing him out, listing all of his faults and the mistakes he made during the relationship or even worse beg him to take you back? We've all been there. It's true what they say (and I say this all the time): relationships (or the ending of one) bring out of the worst in people. All the love you thought you had towards one another simply vanishes into thin air once it's over and is then replaced by a searing, burning, white-hot hate. At least in a few breakups. Some are mutual and civil. The ones in this book are...not. At all. Not even a little.

My sister recommended this book to me because she knows I love historical facts, especially of the fun, quirky variety. And who doesn't love dishing about bad breakups? Everyone loves talking about them! Jennifer Wright writes (haha. Wright writes. I'd love it even more if this book was about a fight for justice: "Wright Writes Rights!") about thirteen of the most worst breakups in history, and boy, does she deliver.

We start out in ancient Rome, a very crazy and dangerous place (Wright keeps reminding us: we romanticize certain parts of history. Ancient Rome was innovative and important but EVERYONE was murdering/poisoning each other to gain power. Everyone!), with the psychopathic Roman emperor Nero and his great love Poppaea, two ruthless human beings who deserved each other, and from there we hop through time, learning about the love, heartbreaks, murders, and revenge of: Lucrezia Borgi, Henry VIII (and all of his wives, beheaded and intact), Lord Byron, Oscar Wilde, Norman Mailer (a real d*ck, in all honesty) and more figures from history that you may not know have existed. Thanks to It Ended Badly, I not only learned about people of historical value that I may not have ever known about (Timothy Dexter was literally the luckiest guy in the world. If he were alive now, he'd be a crazy billionaire living in a skyscraper with statues of himself covering it. Plus, he literally ghosted his wife. No, seriously. He acted like his living wife was an actual ghost. At least your ex never did that!) but I also learned that men, not just women, can go just as batty after a breakup. It's an incredibly refreshing reminder.

Wright also reminds us that no matter what crazy things you may do during the aftereffects of a breakup, it's NOTHING compared to what some of these crazy people of history have done. Hopefully, your relationship ending didn't end in murder or someone stabbing their wife (ahem, Norman Mailer). And it also proves that throughout history, breakups have always stayed the same: they've sucked. They weren't easier back then and they aren't easy now. It's also nice to know that some seemingly smart and talented people have resorted to some of the most insane behavior I've ever heard of. Love hurts, and they wanted everyone else to suffer with them. The only advantage they had that we don't was that most of them were royalty and everyone had to do what they said, even if it meant dressing up a nobleman as a chicken and have him pretend to lay eggs in the royal court (yes, that happened. Anna Ivanova of Russia, she was batsh*t crazy. I loved every minute of that chapter).

The stories in this book will make you gasp with horror, then laugh with Wright's witty conversational writing, as if she's your gal pal telling you these stories after your own breakup to make you feel better. So if you're suffering from a broken heart, and feel like your breakup has been the worst thing that has ever happened in the history of breakups...well, get a pint of ice cream, somewhere cozy to sit and read this book. It will put your entire breakup into perspective and let you know that compared to YOUR breakup, these ones literally did end badly. Very, very badly. Be grateful you weren't murdered. Or that you didn't get mailed an envelope of bloody pubes (yep, that happened. Read the book. You know you want to now).

Hope you liked this book recommendation, fellow historical weirdos! If you do read it, let me know what you think!

Stay Weird,

5 Super Easy Tips for Saving Money (That You Can Totally Do!)

Everything fun seems to involve money. I've been dreaming of a trip to the UK for years and guess what: travel is expensive. You have to pay for the plane tickets, hotels, attractions, transportation, and most importantly, souvenirs (you know if I'm going to England everything I'm going to buy is going to have a Union Jack/Big Ben/red telephone booth design on it or something Harry Potter themed). It costs a lot of hard earned dollars or whatever is your official currency in your country. I'm almost to my goal and do you want to know how I finally saved up the money? By following five simple steps and a lot (I repeat, a LOT) of will power, time, and determination. For whatever it is that you want to save money for, no matter what the cost (but be reasonable. You probably can't save up to buy a castle in five years. Make it ten, win the lottery, and then it might be possible), just know that it is possible. Start with these steps and you'll be on your way!

1. Set Your Goals
This is the most obvious one. Why exactly do you want to go to all of this trouble to not spend money on trivial things, but to actually save it so you can do something cool, meaningful, or experience something new? Figure that out- whether it's for a trip, money for a down payment on a car or house, expenses towards school, or if you're trying to get out of debt, you need to decide on a goal and start planning and saving. If you have a goal in mind, you're more likely not to spend all of your hard earned cash on an impulse purchase. Every time I feel the need to buy something trivial (as in, "Oh, that would make a great present for ____!" Meaning "This is super cute so I'm going to pretend to buy it for someone else because I want it but I don't really need it." I may have been guilty of doing just that. I am neither confirming or denying), I just think of my main goal for saving all this money: saving up for a trip to Europe. Would I rather spend $5 at Del Taco (Tel Taco > Taco Bell, in my humble opinion) or could I just eat the food I have at home and put that $5 towards some fish and chips in the UK? (Minus the fish. Ugh) It helps keep things in perspective when you're out and about!

2. Budget!
I'll be the first to acknowledge that budgeting is the WORST, but it's something that all of us adults (or adults who don't act like adults but have to try to adult in order to survive in this world) have to do. Not only is budgeting helpful in your day to day life (knowing what amount of money goes to rent, food/groceries, car payments, medical/car insurance payments, cable, internet, school tuition, paying off loans...I could literally go on forever. Life is expensive!), it also helps when you're saving. When you're sorting out where your money is going every month as you pay your bills, you can decide on a set amount you'd like to set aside each month to put into your savings account/piggy bank/bank vault full of gold (hey, I don't judge money keeping habits). Make sure that you keep on budget with the money you're stashing away aka set aside the same amount (or slightly more) EVERY month, and before you know it (well, after a while of saving), you'll have a tidy sum so you can actually see the fruits of your scrimping and saving! And you'll be incredibly proud of yourself with keeping your saving on track. You're on your way to achieving your goal (Whatever that may be)!

3. Know Your (Money) Limits
This is an obvious one and goes hand in hand with budgeting, but it's worth being reminded of: don't pay for something you don't need, or is out of your price budget. Shopping for clothes is a therapy in and of itself, but spending what's not in your clothing money allotment, is definitely not. Especially if you're saving for something important, like trying to get out of debt. Credit card bills and debt will hang above your head like the Sword of Damocles and honestly, the precariously placed sword above your head and then it falling on you is probably a lot less damaging to your life than bad credit (try buying a house one day. You won't be able to. YOU WON'T BE ABLE TO DO ANYTHING).

Once you figure out from your budgeting what amount of money goes to what, for spending expenses (groceries, food aka dining out, clothes, presents for others, etc) go with cash. Label envelopes with what the money will go towards and put that amount in it and ONLY spend the money from that certain envelope for what it's actually for (if it's for clothes, only spend it on clothes. Don't embezzle your own money. This isn't Wall Street). Once that money is gone for the month- it's gone. Buying a new swimsuit can wait till next month's allotment (and only when it's next month! No sneaking!). It'll be tough if you love to shop and are prone to impulse purchasing (even fast food costs can add up if you eat out a lot), but trust me, it'll be worth it in the end. You'll actually laugh at how tempted you were to buy that tea towel with a manatee on it (you're only human).

4. Know Your Alternatives
So now you're totally into this whole journey of saving money. It's rough, and you feel like you're not having any fun. But guess what: you totally can! Life doesn't revolve around trivial purchases at Target and buying that designer jacket that is totally not on sale. You just have to know your alternatives of all the fun stuff you usually do. You can still go to the movies: try a matinee instead. They're usually cheaper and bonus points if you still have your student ID because some theaters will give you a discount! And on the subjects of going to the movies... breaking news, movies theaters DO NOT CARE IF YOU SNEAK IN FOOD. If they see you bringing it in, of course they'll say you can't. They're told to say that. But don't act like they're shocked when they see a non-theater approved candy wrapper on the floor of a theater when they're cleaning it after a viewing of the newest Marvel movie (this has been confirmed by my two sisters who have both worked at a movie theater. They do not care). Everyone does it. Just use a big purse, be cool about it, and don't leave a mess, and everything will be fine. Plus, you'll be saving a buttload of money by not buying overpriced popcorn, drinks and candy. And probably a bunch of calories too.

The library is a great alternative to Redbox or other movie rental places online. Your local library has the newest movies, and while you may have to be on the wait list for a while to see this year's Oscar winning movie, you'll be getting it for free, instead of paying $1 a day for an Adam Sandler comedy that you wish you could erase from your memory. Do you get a manicure often? Instead, try doing your nails yourself! Also, dial back on going out to eat. I bet you have plenty of edible foods in your own kitchen, they'll just take more prep work. And never underestimate the power of coupons! They are your friends, and you can find them all online or on a store's app. And don't stick your nose up on generic/store products! Most are just as good of quality, or even better than the actual brand's. I'm incredibly fond of Target's Market Pantry's version of Frosted Mini Wheats. Saving is delicious.

5. Save Your Butt Off!
This is the most important step and the hardest. Because life will totally get in the way of your planning. Your friends will want to go out shopping, or go out to eat or have drinks. You may go on a date to the movies and they want to buy the large popcorn, which is roughly the size of a cow's feedbag and then they suggest you each get a Slurpee the size of a top hat. But stay strong! Know your alternatives (see above): don't spend more than what you set aside for clothes, don't order an appetizer with your main course and skip the dessert, order a cheap drink or two only, and blow your date's mind by opening up your tote bag to reveal some bottled sodas and a selection of fine candies (if that doesn't score you a second date than I don't know what will!).

And it may seem super insignificant, but you would not believe how many people drop their change on the ground. I find so many pennies on the ground, and on good days I find nickels and dimes, and on really, really good days, sometimes I even find a quarter (even if I'm having a bad day, if I find a quarter- then it's automatically becomes a GOOD day). Most people don't roll coins (or use Coinstar) anymore, but I still do. It's actually crazy how much all of these little coins can add up to. Save up your miscellaneous change and put it towards your goal. Every little bit helps, from all of your saving and hard work, and you'll be watching the numbers in your account getting higher and higher and you dream getting closer and closer.

And just remember: this is all for the greater good of you achieving what you set out to do. Whether it's going towards your dream wedding, honeymoon in Hawaii, or even just those coveted tickets to San Diego Comic Con, all of the time and effort is going to be worth it in the end, for the experiences, the memories, or living that debt free life! Set your goals and get started! You can do it!

I hope this advice helped you for whatever it is you're saving for! If you have any other great tips on how to save money, let me know in the comments! Also, let me know what you're saving for!

Stay Weird,

Book Review: Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

Random House

Book: Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice

Author: Curtis Sittenfeld

Genre: Fiction

Subgenre: Romance, family, relationships, love, marriage

My Review and Thoughts: Okay, I have a confession to make. I've never read Pride and Prejudice. I know, I know, I'm a very bad bookworm. Pride and Prejudice is a classic that everyone should read at least once in their lives and I just haven't gotten around to it. But despite never having read the book, I, like most people, pretty much know the story by heart: Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy meet and it certainly isn't love at first sight (quite the opposite), but as the story continues, the circumstances change, along with how they first viewed and judged each other, which finally leads to them falling in love. The author of Eligible, Curtis Sittenfeld, most likely knew that she was tackling a big undertaking by modernizing a classic that has, hundreds of years later, still has incredibly zealous fans.

I had first heard about the book this year, when Sittenfeld was interviewed by NPR. She sounded incredibly intelligent and thoughtful, so my curiosity was piqued and I decided to read Eligible (you know, without reading Pride and Prejudice first. I know, I'm terrible!). I went in a little hesitantly: How can an author bring this classic story to life without utterly destroying it with modern settings? I was so pleased and amused to learn that Sittenfeld not only told the story well, but with humor and satire as well.

This century's Bennet family is located in Cincinnati, OH, a formerly rich WASP-ish family in massive debt as the wry Mr. Bennet's health scare. Oldest daughters Jane and Elizabeth aka Liz, (40 and 38, respectively) are living in New York and are practically pass their prime, as Mrs. Bennet would say, but they have now returned to the family to help with Mr. Bennet's recuperation. The youngest sisters, Kitty and Lydia, in their early twenties, are selfish, self-obsessed Crossfit devotees, whereas middle sister Mary is working on her umpteenth online degree and is cloistered away in her room, forever working. The three youngest siblings still live in the family's sprawling Tudor home, which is in desperate need of repair. It's at a family friend's 4th of July party that the elder Bennet sister's meet handsome and sweet Chip Bingley, a young doctor and former contestant on a popular dating show (titled Eligible), and his friend Fitzwilliam Darcy, a talented neurosurgeon and recent arrival in Cincinnati, and also a pompous ass (according to Liz).

What follows is easy to guess, as it is straight out of Pride and Prejudice, but the modern twists are so clever and inventive that you can't help but be a little surprised to see how this version parallels the original. The idea of the importance of marriage has Sittenfeld push back Jane's (a yoga teacher struggling with infertility) and Liz's (a journalist for a feminist magazine in New York) ages to the late 30's and early 40's to emphasize Mrs. Bennet's panic at the idea of her children never marrying or having children (the portrayal of Mrs. Bennet as a pearl wearing, country club dining semi-racist WASP is brilliantly cringe-worthy) and the selfishness of their younger sisters perfectly mirrors this decades obsession with social media and self-image. What may have been scandalous in Jane Austen's day (a young woman running away with a man, then having to get married to avoid drama and rumors), has to be modified for this day and age. Without giving too much away (it really is best if most of this is a surprise), the scandals are not terrible as portrayed in the original text, but are flipped over and displayed as a way to shake up the traditional and self-absorbed Bennet family that will make you smile and welcome them to the modern age.

Yes, the Bennet family is annoying, materialistic, and infuriating, but Sittenfeld writes them so well, and with such humor and even moments of warmth, that you really do want to see how all of these changes in their lives play out. The writing is the perfect blend of modern language, mixed with wit, and a tad of flair of the language of Austen's time that Sittenfeld adds to create a loving tribute to the original. Pride and Prejudice is considered a feminist story (woman deciding to marry for love, instead of marrying for money) and Eligible is no different. Of course Lizzy Bennet is a feminist and doesn't bow to Darcy. She even takes their utter dislike for each other and proposes what only people in this day and age would ever do (certainly not something the original Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy would ever do): she proposes hate sex, and he willingly agrees. It may seem sacrilegious to some Pride and Prejudice purists ("they would never do such a thing!") but it makes perfect sense that two characters in this decade would take all of their hatred and sexual tension and actually do something about it. That hate sex, of course, leads to more complicated feelings...

Overall, I actually really enjoyed the book and couldn't put it down for two days, and barely noticed the 400+ pages. It was the wit and the back and forth between characters that really hooked me, along with the clever modern parallels to the original (characters and events) that were intelligent and insightful to today's culture. But first and foremost, I was stuck on Liz and Darcy. Even in today's setting, they had that same spark and repartee. When you first meet them, you know that they are destined to be together, but you enjoy the ride to get there like it was the first time... Which is storytelling at it's very finest.

Should You Read It: Honestly, even if you're not a fan of Jane Austen's work (which, just to remind you, I'm not that familiar with), I think you'll still enjoy the satire and writing of Sittenfeld's work. It stands on it's own without being disrespectful to Pride and Prejudice, and it really is a great, engrossing read. Who doesn't love a good love story re-imagined?

Has anyone else read Eligible? Did you like it? What did you think of this century's Elizabeth and Darcy? Let me know what you think!

Happy reading, fellow weirdos!

Stay Weird,